Makeup and Photography

Dog Tail Designs, Photography, Makeup, Photo Shoot, Pictures, Portfolio

The Makeup Wipe Out

Prepping your face for pictures is an important part of the pre-pic process. Your face is the focal point of every shot, so you want to look your best. Makeup can be tricky – how much is enough? Don’t assume that your daily makeup routine is going to cut it, because the camera will do a number on those colors. If it’s indoor photos, and your photographer is using a flash, then the makeup can really look washed out. Yikes!

Of course, you don’t want to overdo it. Looking like a clown is not the goal! If makeup isn’t “your thing” and it intimidates you to go beyond your daily norm, don’t worry. Following some basic tips will help you stay in line with the look you want.

Less is More for the Natural Look

If you are not a makeup user, then you are probably very hesitant at the idea of putting some on for your pictures. Maybe you’re worried that you’ll look unnatural. I get it! I totally understand that you want to be yourself in your pictures, and that’s exactly how it should be. Two things – lipstick and mascara – nothing else. Go with a brown (not black) mascara, and simply apply a couple coats. This will prevent your eyelashes from disappearing in the photograph. Look for a pinkish-rose lipstick that comes close to matching your actual lip color. Using this will ensure your lips don’t blend in with your face.

Expensive makeup is completely unnecessary, but do invest in this purchase ahead of time. Test your application technique and the colors BEFORE the actual picture day. If you buy your makeup at Wal-Mart, they will absolutely accept a return if you don’t like the color (keep your receipt!) The application process for these two pieces will take less than five minutes, and you’ll be so happy that you took the time.  

Tips and Tricks for Makeup

I’ve compiled a lengthy list of tips to remember for your photo shoot. You’ll notice that I’ve made some product suggestions, but I am receiving NOTHING for these endorsements. They are simply my recommendations. Several of my product suggestions are by Arbonne, a makeup that must be ordered through an Arbonne Representative and is considered pricey. If you’ve never used the stuff, it’s amazing. If you don’t know an Arbonne rep, shoot me an email and I will hook you up (again… I am NOT getting a kickback on this!).

Some tips you can skip if it’s out of your comfort zone. They are simply listed to serve as a guideline not a Golden Rule.

  1. Wash your face. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked. Even if you don’t have makeup on, your skin has gotten oily since it was last washed, and you don’t want to apply makeup to an oily face. You can use Garnier Refreshing Remover Cleansing Towelettes from Wal-Mart. You can even buy the generic version of the Garnier wipes, and they work great. I use the FC5 cleanser for oily skin by Arbonne (they make a sister cleanser for dry skin). I love this stuff, as in, if there were a fire in my house, I would grab my cleanser before I ran out.
  2. Moisturize your face. Yes, you just washed off the oil, but now you need to hydrate your skin for a fresh look. If you don’t have a moisturizer that you already use, then get one! Seriously, it’s the number-one step to anti-aging. Oil of Olay makes a whole line of moisturizers for any skin type, as does Garnier and Aveeno. For me, I use the FC5 moisturizer by Arbonne, but their RE9 moisturizer is the bomb as well.
  3. Groom your eyebrows several days before the shoot. Plucking and waxing will cause some temporary redness, so you don’t want to do this the day of the shoot. My stylist charges seven bucks to professionally wax my eyebrows, and it’s MORE than worth it. Consider the splurge for your special picture day.
  4. Apply your makeup in a well-lit area. Natural lighting (i.e. by a window) would be ideal. But, a bathroom with bright lights over the vanity will work well also.
  5. Approach your makeup application as if this were a special occasion (ummm… it is!). Think what colors and products you would use if you were going to a fancy dinner or getting ready for prom. This is the look you’re going for!
  6. Before applying makeup, start with a primer. Oh dear, I can’t stress this enough. I realize that primer is not the most common of products. Many people see this invisible layer as a waste, but it’s not! Primer will help reduce the look of lines and wrinkles. Primer sets the palette for everything else you are about to apply and will serve as the “glue” to keep it all together. Arbonne’s makeup primer has won beauty awards, and is the silkiest product you could ever apply to your face. I highly recommend it. Something more budget friendly? Milani Prime Perfection Hydrating + Pore Minimizing Face Primer is available for nine dollars. I have never used it, but I found it on a “top ten” list from
  7. I’ll just touch on the option of BB and CC creams. If you don’t use them daily, you may for special occasions. If you’ve never tried them, then I suggest a trip to your favorite makeup counter. Here’s an article that breaks down the differences and advantages of these creams. If you know nothing about the “alphabet” creams, then this is a very informative read. Decide for yourself if you want to include this product in your regimen.
  8. Apply a foundation just one shade darker than your natural skin tone. Trust me! I have seen SO many pictures where faces are much lighter than the rest of the skin – it looks unnatural and ghostly. Of course, your photographer can fix this in the editing process, but only if you use someone like Dog Tail Designs who knows what they’re doing.
  9. Blend your foundation well. Even if it is a shade darker, there should not be a visible foundation line anywhere. Practice using your foundation of choice ahead of time to determine how much is the right amount. You don’t want to use too much the day of your shoot and look cakey.
  10. Apply foundation lightly to your lips. It will help the lipstick and gloss to last.
  11. Also apply foundation very lightly to your eyelids, before breaking out the eye shadow. It creates the canvas on which you will paint.
  12. Use under eye concealer to cover any dark circles you might have. Again, blend really well.
  13. When it comes to eye shadow, blush, and lipstick, skip the shimmery or glittery colors and go with matte. The glitter will reflect light, which you do not want.
  14. Consider using about one-third more eye shadow than you would on a daily basis. Yes, I understand that “measuring” one-third of your eye shadow is difficult. Just remember – use a little extra.
  15. Don’t go dark with your lipstick – it will look harsh through the camera.
  16. Curl your lashes before applying mascara. I can’t tell you what a difference this makes! It will open your eyes, give you glam, and make your face “wow!” False eyelashes for photos are very popular, too.
  17. Apply two to three coats of mascara – not just one.
  18. Wrap it up with a finishing powder, and apply it with a big fat brush. I avoid my eyes when using this because I don’t want the powder to cover my lashes or eyeshadow.
  19. Keep a pack of rice paper in your purse at the shoot. These amazing little sheets pull oil off your face without messing up your makeup. If you can’t find them in the store, get it from Amazon (just search “rice paper” or “oil absorbing sheets”).
  20. In case I haven’t mentioned it already, practice your photo shoot make up routine at least once before the day of the shoot. Get comfortable with the products that you don’t normally use, and tweak the process until your final look is exactly what you want.

Just a Few More To-Do’s

Holy cow! How many tips am I going to give you?!?! Almost done, I promise! These final pointers don’t really fall in the category of makeup application, but they’re good to keep in mind so you can look your best.

  1. Don’t neglect your nails. No, you don’t need to pay for a manicure (though, this does look nice). You just need to have neat nails. Make sure they’re filed evenly. At the minimum, apply a clear coat of polish.
  2. Don’t go crazy with the tanning just because you’re getting your picture taken. Seriously, this does not come across well on the camera.
  3. Ask your photographer to help with any makeup faux pas while he or she is editing. Makeup editing should be a skill your photographer has (ask before you hire), and it can make a world of difference.
  4. If makeup application isn’t your strong suit, consider watching some YouTube videos on the topic. You can watch specific videos that address the area in which you are the least comfortable.

You don’t have to look like a professionally made-up model to look like your beautiful self. Makeup artists are not required. Don’t try to look like someone you’re not – that would be a mistake! These tips are simply provided to help you look like the best version of you for your photos.

What are your best makeup tips? What’s your biggest makeup mistake? Share your thoughts so we can all learn!

This Article Was Written By


Wendy is the assistant behind the magic. She helps Casey on all the photo shoots and handles the marketing side of Dog Tail Designs.